As we launch the online version of Unboxing Mozart, we spoke to Sebastian Quack of Invisible Playground, the developers who transformed Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 into an interactive digital experience as part of Mozart Momentum 1785/1786.
Tell us more about Invisible Playground. Who are you, and what do you do?
Invisible Playground is a network of six reflective practitioners working at the intersection of play and urban society – as game designers, artists, urbanists, curators, author, musician, scenographers and in many other roles. For Unboxing Mozart, Invisible Playground members Josa Gerhard and myself worked with creative technologist and longtime collaborator Holger Heissmeyer.
How did you get involved in creating Unboxing Mozart? How did you develop the idea?
Josa and I have a series of projects around investigating the playful aspects of music. How can music be more interactive? How can audiences and musicians relate in new ways? For example we realized Playsonic, an international festival around this topic in Frankfurt in 2018. Around that time we started talking with Mahler Chamber Orchestra about an interactive learning format connected to Mozart. Our guiding idea was the question “How can an audience member become a musician? How can non-musicians experience some of the musical, spacial and social dynamics of playing an instrument in an orchestra?”
How did Mozart and his music inspire you along the way? Did you learn anything new about the composer?
I really enjoyed how Mozart combines simple and recognizable patterns – both musical themes and interactions – with surprising developments. I think the music is ideal for this kind of project, because there is so much to discover in the individual parts and how they go together.
What's been your favourite part about working on this project?
For me one of the most interesting aspects was the journey from the special recording session, where the musicians played their parts in isolation using a click track, to watching the players in Frankfurt and Berlin reassemble those parts in public space. Taking something apart and inviting people to experience the joy of putting it back together on their own is great fun.
Finally, what kind of experience will our audience get from playing the online version of this game?
I wouldn’t call the online version a game at all, it’s more of an interactive way to playfully explore this wonderful set of single part recordings. You can navigate through a virtual city and play with the different parts of the piece. While you have to be on your toes during the walk and installation to not miss your cues, in the online version, you have all the time in the world to discover interesting combinations of individual parts in the different passages.